JEANENE SMITH, MA, LPC, LMFT-S,
INTERIM CLINICAL DIRECTOR
RACHEL SAFFER, LCSW-S, DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING, REGISTERED PLAY THERAPIST in Training
Rachel Saffer earned her Masters of Social Work from Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Starting as an office volunteer at Austin Grief, Rachel quickly grew to be an integral part of our team.
Rachel has experience in providing counseling to adults, teenagers and children who have experienced significant trauma in both group and individual settings. Rachel utilizes various interventions in her practice including therapeutic yoga, EMDR, and traditional play therapy. She believes in providing every client with a welcoming and safe environment so that they can work towards healing on their own terms.
JILL ARECHIGA, LCSW, THERAPIST
Jill Arechiga is a native Texan and earned her Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Before leaving the corporate healthcare industry, she was a hospice social worker for 9 years.
Jill also has a particular interest in helping people with advanced directives (tackling those difficult end of life decisions). When it comes to self-care, she can be found exploring the waters of Central Texas in her kayak.
LAURA BABINEAU, MEd, LPC, THERAPIST
Laura Babineau earned her Master’s in Special Education from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT, her Master’s in Counseling from St. Edwards University in Austin, and has trained in EMDR trauma therapy. Laura started her career as a Special Education teacher in Vermont and Massachusetts before moving to Austin in 2006. Laura has an extensive background in facilitating support groups and has been a group facilitator at The Austin Center for Grief & Loss since 2014. Her own grief experience has given her a strong belief in the strength, wisdom, and resilience of the human spirit, and the personal growth that can result from experiences with grief and trauma. She considers it an honor to walk beside her clients on their personal grief journey.
Laura enjoys playing music, spending time with her family and hiking around Austin.
JULIE BIECHLIN, LMSW, THERAPIST and
Julie Biechlin comes to The Austin Center for Grief & Loss after 22 years as a Disability Specialist with the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services-Disability Determination Services. Prior to this she worked with several agencies in the field of social work including The Settlement Home. Her personal experience with spousal loss and mental illness of a family member has drawn her to this field of work. In addition, she volunteers with the National Alliance for Mental Illness as a support group facilitator and teacher of the Family to Family Class and has been trained as a support group facilitator for The Austin Center for Grief & Loss. Through this work she is able to guide her students and support group members through
the journey of recovery from loss, how to navigate the mental health service system and insights and skills for family members to assist loved ones with mental illness and still maintain the balance with self- care. Her passion lies in sharing what she has learned through her experience with grief, loss and trauma and new beginnings.
CHARLES CALE, MA, LPC, THERAPIST
Charles Cale is a Texas native and earned his Master of Arts in Counseling in 2015 from St. Edward's University. He has extensive experience in social service, including online support communities, and support groups. In his private practice he uses a Postmodern approach which respects the cultural backgrounds and beliefs of the individual. He uses Narrative therapy to look for understanding instead of blame, and to see perceived problems as motivating forces. A foundation of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is used to to help families and individuals sort out emotions from logic in order to make solid life choices. When not working in a psychological setting, he can be
found hiking with his wife, reading, people watching, or building LEGO creations for his cats to knock over.
JOCELYN CHAMA-BARRERA, LCSW, THERAPIST
Jocelyn Chamra-Barrera is a bilingual Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She has been a practicing social worker in Austin since 2014. She has previous experience working with children, adolescents, and families, having served as a social worker at a Family Resource Center and the Travis County Child Advocacy Center. Jocelyn has focused her work in the areas of mental health, child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, and significant trauma. Jocelyn utilizes EMDR to support those experiencing trauma, grief and loss. She holds a Master of Science in Social Work from the School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas at Austin.
CALEB DANSKY, MEd, LCSW, THERAPIST and
Caleb Dansky is a licensed clinical social worker who has been working with children and their families for the last 15 years. He practices from a differentiated therapeutic stance, and is prepared to engage in multiple therapeutic medians including: play, music, movement, art, horticulture, and imagination. Caleb is trained in culturally competent interventions aligned with trauma informed practice, polyvagal theory, and attachment theory. He is able to support children on an individual, family, and parent level through evidence-based practices such as safe and sound protocol, child parent psychotherapy, and circle of security. Caleb has worked with children experiencing both direct and ambiguous loss. Through this work, Caleb has built a foundation strong in
admiration and wonder. He brings a unique energy to the therapeutic space, and believes that therapy consists of both tears and laughter. In his leisure, Caleb can be found exploring mountains with his dogs, cooking large meals with his family, and getting lost in the world of literature.
ALICIA GOSTYLO, MA, LPC-A, THERAPIST
Supervised by LISA NANYES, MA, LPC-S
Alicia Z. Gostylo (she/her/hers) earned her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. A native Austinite, Alicia enjoys spending time in nature, dancing, reading, and playing games with her family. Alicia is a certified yoga teacher trained in Integrative Yoga Therapy and enjoys incorporating mindfulness, breath work, somatic awareness and movement into her counseling sessions. She is a strong believer that what makes grief and loss so challenging is that “We are wired for attachment in a world of impermanence.” How do we integrate our losses into that reality? There is no getting over it, only going through it. As a counselor, Alicia sees herself as “companioning” individuals and families through the wilderness of grief as well as pointing out guideposts along the way so
you don’t feel as lost. With a dose of courage and hope one can begin to heal in grief and to find continued meaning in life.
HANNAH KOSTER, LMSW, THERAPIST
Supervised by BECKY MORALES, LCSW-S
Hannah Koster earned her Masters in Social Work from Western New Mexico University. Hannah worked as a student intern at The Austin Center for Grief & Loss for the spring semester of 2018 and was hired as Client Care Coordinator after graduating. Hannah has experience working with youth of all ages and is passionate about helping children and adolescents work through the difficult periods in their life. Hannah utilizes a strengths-based approach, helping clients identify their abilities and gifts that will give them resiliency to make it through adversity. In her spare time, you can find Hannah spending time with her family, playing board games, or exploring new restaurants around Austin. Hannah loves to go on long walks or hikes and practice yoga in her down time.
LYNNE LEVINSON, MEd, LPC-S, THERAPIST
Lynne Levinson has been a licensed professional counselor since 1992. She came to The Austin Center for Grief & Loss in 2017 after over 20 years at the University of Texas at Austin where she was a career counselor, manager, and administrator. Prior to that, she was in private practice where she specialized in trauma counseling and couples counseling. Lynne is a certified EMDR therapist. While she has been trained in many counseling modalities, she primarily utilizes EMDR and Somatic Experiencing to support adults experiencing trauma, grief and loss. Like many counselors who are drawn to grief counseling, Lynne came to this work through her own personal experiences of loss, including sudden death loss, expected death loss, as well as job loss. She recognizes that many of us seek not only empathy but also guidance as we navigate the grief process, and she honors the
desire for both deep connection and insightful guidance in her counseling. Lynne also volunteers at Hospice Austin where she sings with Threshold Choir for patients in hospice. She has practiced meditation and yoga for all of her adult life and honors death, as well as grief, as part of a greater whole.
LEXI LOSCH, MA, LPC, NCC, THERAPIST and
Lexi Losch earned her Master’s in Higher Education Administration from the University of Miami in 2006 and worked in higher education for several years before earning her Master’s in Professional Counseling from Texas State University in 2018. Her experience working with students on their non-academic concerns led her to a career in counseling. Her personal experience with pregnancy loss and perinatal mood disorders influenced her desire to work with adults experiencing loss along the reproductive spectrum. Lexi uses a person-centered approach with clients, believing in the power of the therapeutic relationship. She also uses Narrative Therapy as a tool to help clients retell their stories that helps them find power and peace within it. Lexi enjoys spending time
with her husband and three children. She enjoys reading, Star Wars, and Harry Potter.
BRITTANY NEECE, LPC-S, LMFT-S, GROUP COORDINATOR
CHRISTI NEVILLE, LPC, THERAPIST
Brittany Neece completed her masters degree in counseling through St. Edwards University. She works with individuals, couples and families and specializes in working with clients who have experienced significant or traumatic loss, PTSD, difficult life transitions, and bereavement. She is trained in using specific trauma treatment, such as EMDR and Trauma First Aid, as well as couples and family systems treatment. Brittany has facilitated many grief therapy and support groups at Austin Grief, including the Complicated Grief Therapy Group. She aims to provide a warm, empathic, and safe environment for clients to help them experience their own healing process.
Christi Neville earned her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver in 1999, and following her own personal experience with sudden partner loss, has dedicated the last twenty years to the field of bereavement. Within this specialty, she has enjoyed working both in private practice, and a variety of nonprofit positions, including many years with hospice bereavement programs, teaching graduate-level grief courses, and coordinating grief support groups for all types of loss. Her therapeutic work incorporates mindfulness, Narrative Therapy, and other approaches that are strength-based, trauma-informed, and solution-focused. Grounded in a compassionate presence and a belief in the resiliency of the human spirit, Christi fosters
hope, healing, and empowerment in each person’s unique journey through loss. In her spare time, Christi enjoys music, camping, and all kinds of outdoor adventures with her son.
SUZIE SHELBY, LMSW, THERAPIST
Supervised by GIANNA VIOLA, LCSW-S
Suzie Shelby earned her Master of Social Work from Smith College for Social Work in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has a Bachelor of Art in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Denver and a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of Tennessee. She is also a Licensed Massage Therapist. Suzie’s career paths have organically unfolded with her experiences as a Special Education Teacher at the Texas School for the Deaf and as a Licensed Massage Therapist specializing in working with individuals affected by cancer and trauma, paving the way for a third career in social work. Suzie was drawn to the message of hope and healing at The Austin Center for Grief & Loss and started as a Volunteer Support Group
Facilitator. Her interest in grief and loss counseling grew out of her personal experiences with familial cancer, anticipated loss, sudden death loss, and relationship loss. She has come to appreciate the difficulties and the potential posttraumatic growth of the grief journey, as well as, how unique each person’s grief journey is. Some of the healing modalities she uses to support those experiencing trauma, grief, and loss include Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, Mindfulness, and Mind-Body techniques. Suzie believes in creating a safe and welcoming space for each person to heal in their own way and at their own pace while providing therapeutic companionship along the way. Suzie’s self-care includes spending time in nature, lap swimming, especially under the moon and stars at night, and meditating.
NADIA VELASQUEZ, LCSW, ACHP-SW, THERAPIST
Nadia Velasquez is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Nadia has over 3 years experience working as a Hospice Austin Social Worker, providing anticipatory grief and loss support to patients and families as they cope with a terminal prognosis. More recently, Nadia provides mental health counseling to home-bound adults. Nadia has extensive experience working with older adults in areas of mental health, aging, adjustment, chronic illness, disability, trauma, grief, and loss. Nadia earned a Master of Science in Social Work from The Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Nadia enjoys spending time outdoors, working on the yard, and traveling near and far.
Please call our office, 512.472.7878, for the availability of each therapist.
HEATHER VIKSTEDT, MA, LPC-Associate, THERAPIST
Supervised by BRITTANY NEECE, LPC-S, LMFT-S
Heather Vikstedt earned her Master’s in Professional Counseling from Texas State University in 2019. Her journey towards a career in counseling began as a group facilitator working with people in recovery from trauma, addiction, and co-dependency. Through this experience she discovered a passion for walking along side people as they heal from some of the most difficult experiences of their lives.
Heather believes that we all have unique life experiences that shape how we view ourselves, others, and the world around us. Our life experiences may have left us with a great deal of pain and distress, feeling stuck, lost and confused, or like life is unmanageable. As a counselor, Heather strives to build relationships where clients feel connected, acknowledged for who they are, and fully accepted in a safe and compassionate environment. In working alongside her clients, Heather utilizes a number of interventions to facilitate the discovery of their own strengths, resilience, and power as they heal. Heather has experience working with clients of all ages who are dealing with grief and loss, traumatic experiences, anxiety, depression, substance use, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, and family conflict. Outside of work, Heather enjoys spending time hiking, biking, and playing games with family and friends.